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Sound Isolation Platform


BEEMB

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Interested in obtaining thoughts regarding sound isolation platforms.

 

My Mac Mini and external hard disk sit on a sound isolation platform on my hifi stand which I'm soon to sell. The platform was not bought for the Mac - I've had it for years - it used to sit underneath a Clearaudio Emotion record deck.

 

Does anyone believe there is any advantage to having the Mac sat, perched on this platform ? I can feel vibration from the hard disk affecting the Mac - but since I'll shortly be outputting sound from the Mini to some ADM9.1s I don't think it'll make any difference.. ?

 

I can see how isolating the Mini from the hard disk would be a good idea - but then theres a hard disk in the mini anyway.

 

Thoughts !? Not a great topic but still interesting if you're dull like I am !!

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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As Martin Grindrod says, if noise and vibration were an issue in electronics then Cruise Missiles would not be hitting too many targets! He's an ex military avionics engineer who once headed up a team that researched moving sensitive digital information around a supersonic fighter aircraft, so better qualified to comment than most.

 

Put it on Ebay

 

Ash

 

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I tend to agree with Ashley. I got very "anal" about the whole vibration issue earlier this year. At one point, I had all my equipment sandwiched between granite slabs, with sorbothane, isonodes, you name it! Could I tell any difference - I can't say for sure. The same goes for cables. You want to hear an improvement for the outlay, but can you really say for sure?

 

Now I have my Mac sitting on a wooden bench!

 

If you are really worried, get a granite chopping board from Walmart (or wherever), stick some isonodes under it and you have a decent isolation platform at low cost - isonodes seem to work as well as anything I have tried. I have my TV sitting on my ADM9 Subwoofer - Bob Marley tended to get the TV jumping! So I built myself a mini platform with two MDF boards sandwiched with isonode feet and the TV now vibrates relatively little.

 

Phil

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

There art two types of vibration: Airborne and Structure-borne. Either can effect any type of unit with a Hard Drive, Optical Drive, or a component with tubes. Solid State amplifiers are the least effected.

 

I really like the IsoNodes. They are the definition of KISS (keep it simple stupid). All one needs is a sturdy base, and the small hemisphere black rubber like, self adhesive IsoNodes. I use them on several applications and they work wonders. Large ones are 1 1/2" in diameter and 3/4" thick, Small are 3/4" diameter and 3/8" thick. Shop around on the web, prices vary from $30 for eight large to $25 for just four large.

 

I was looking through this Penny Saver type of tabloid for some stone slabs, but saw an ad for slabs of walnut burl wood used by wood turners. I purchased the three large round slaps for $50, had them cut down into squares and rectangles 2 1/2" thick with the top and bottom sides cut and planed parallel. Then I sanded the pieces smooth and applied several coats of tongue oil varnish to bring out the grain and attached the IsoNodes on the bottom. They look like bases made to display fine art bronzes. The total cost for everything was about the cost of one machined point base, and in my opinion the IsoNodes actually work better.

 

IsoNodes are a good practical solution for general purpose applications, but are only effective for weights up to about 45 pounds. The best high end system I've seen in use is made by Harmonic Resolution Systems. Their racks and platforms are designed for large home theater systems with exposed electronics. Vibration generated from large speakers and multiple subs will cause all kinds of problems if the electronic components are not effectively isolated.

 

I hope my suggestion will be of some help.

 

Daphne

 

 

 

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Daphne, I agree about the isonodes. They actually seem to work in damping vibration. Other things I have tried don't. Like you, I employ a low cost solution of granite chopping boards on isonodes. However, I do wonder how much difference to sound quality vibrations actually make. When my record player used to jump because of bass from the speakers, that was a definite effect! However, the potential impacts on a computer? Not sure.

 

Regards

 

Phil

 

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I got rid of my turntable and switched to a digital library so I didn't have to worry about things like isolation...my idea of KISS is plug & play, but that's just me. :)

 

It honestly didn't even occur to me that vibrations on a computer would be an issue. Doesn't the mac mini have a solid rubber base anyway?

 

I don't have an opinion either way, but I do know that it would have to be a pretty cheap experiment for me to even bother. Just my 2 cents.

 

itunes alac > mac mini > pro-ject usb box > pro-ject pre box > pro-ject amp box > totem rainmaker

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I'm certain is nothing we need to worry about. If programs run OK so the music will play OK. End of story.

 

I think that if we're going to be improving sound quality, we need to concentrate on those aspects of the equipment that can be shown to have some effect.

 

Hi Fidelity sound reproduction is of enormous benefit to many, a high percentage of whom have been driven oaway by the loony tunes tweakers. I pray that this Forum will treat this stuff with the scepticism that it deserves. The human ear is a fallible device when hi fi isn't involved!

 

I do hope I haven't been to blunt BUT!

 

Ash

 

 

 

 

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Nothing wrong with blunt!

 

Either way...I guess we should go with whatever sounds best to us. If someone finds their isolation doodads work, then who are we to tell them they wasted their money....I just wish people would invest first in things that are proven to improve sound, then play with the toys. Again, my 2 cents (we're up to 4 now...i'll shut up).

 

itunes alac > mac mini > pro-ject usb box > pro-ject pre box > pro-ject amp box > totem rainmaker

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I agree, nothing wrong with blunt and what Ashley says makes a lot of sense!

 

Earlier this year, whilst still playing around with my "traditional" system, I got very worked up about the sound which never sounded quite right to me. I changed loads of things and spent a fair bit of cash (although most of the stuff I bought came through ebay). As well as cables, I got worked up about damping and vibration. At my lowest point (looking back), I very nearly spent around £500 on an elaborate vibration/damping control system, supposed to protect my CD player from EM radiation, etc, etc. Thanks goodness I pulled back from the brink! I love the sound from my current Mac/AVI system and there are no elaborate cables, supports, etc.

 

What I would say, however, is if you want to try an anti-vibration platform for your Mac, just build yourself one with a granite plinth and isonodes (or try Daphne's suggestion with wood). Isonodes definitely reduce vibration and the platform cost me £30 total and looks good - it is my dedicated spot for my Mac. Whether vibrations matter of not is another matter, but for £30 hey? Hmmm, what about radioactivity from the granite - had not thought of that....

 

Phil

 

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"Hi Fidelity sound reproduction is of enormous benefit to many, a high percentage of whom have been driven oaway by the loony tunes tweakers. I pray that this Forum will treat this stuff with the scepticism that it deserves. The human ear is a fallible device when hi fi isn't involved!

 

I do hope I haven't been to blunt BUT!"

 

Well, your bluntness certainly doesn't offend me, Ashley. In fact, it raises my interests in your speakers as it makes me expect that they are designed by people with a firm grip on practical reality and they'll have all their money in places that matter.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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I'll second that one Tim.

 

I've just sold the very isolation platform (made by a company called Base) that started this topic. Using it with my Clearaudio turntable I'd argue that it appeared to make a difference; I guess the stylus was sensitive enough to pick up bass vibrations from my subwoofer through the hifi stand.

 

But, I could hear no difference at all when I sat my CD player or Mac Mini on top of it.... (I don't understand how vibration affects electrical/digital signals, but certainly see how it affects a record deck).

 

Phil - why not post a picture of your stand.? I'm interested from a looks standpoint even if it hasn't made any difference to the sound.

 

Speaker stands; given that most allow you to fill them with sand, why is there such a huge difference between them? (Or is there ? Are some of the mainstream magazines hearing things we can't?) ... I'm putting my AVI's on some Apollo Olympus stands. I'm guessing that if stands are weighty and isolate the speaker that's good enough. (At the moment I have them perched on two chairs - hardly ideal - but will I notice any difference to the sound, hmmm).

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Hi Phil:

 

I have had my trials a tribulations with vibrations over the years. I could have made better decisions without all the conflicting opinions and advice I received.

 

For example: I have read where hard drives which rotate at a lower RPM, like small 5400 rpm drives, are less effected by vibrations. However, these drives are normally found in notebook computers or as portable drives and are mounted to withstand a degree of shock and vibration. I have also read that higher speed drives are far more susceptible to vibrations which can greatly lower their MTBF rate. Especially larger capacity drives with thin multiple disks running at 7200 rpm and 10,000 rpm. I read an interesting article once on the failure rate of hard drives, which claimed after long term testing, one main design flaw was due to manufacturers not sealing the drives properly. After time, vibrations from outside the drive and a fractional amount generated from within would cause minute dust particles to enter causing the drives to slowly fail. Premium drives which were sealed properly survived beyond their rated MTBF.

 

On a more technical note, I own a business which produces large format graphics. We use mac Pros at the work stations, and Apple servers to RIP the images to the large printers. Files can be rather large so we store jobs on a series of large capacity RAID 5 drives which are rack mounted. These RAID 5 units are very expensive. The hot swappable drives run at 10,000 rpm, and are specifically designed to stream large files. The chassis which holds the drives inside the case employs a vibration damping system. The drive units are connected to the servers using SCSI 3. There is a major difference in design and construction with hard drive units built for 24/7 applications with a long MTBF rate over the inexpensive desktop RAID units. Now why would a drive manufacturer pay such close attention to vibration isolation if it was not a performance factor?

 

For archiving data, we use a DVD tower. Something like 500 discs stacked vertically with three optical drives that travel up and down rails to access various discs. When a drive needed to be replaced in 07, I had the opportunity to observe the unit with the case removed. I was not expecting to see that the base and each drive was designed with vibration control techniques. This unit basically records and on occasion will play back a past job. It is typical to keep this storage device in a temperature controlled, HEPA filtered room. Again, why all the layers of vibration isolation if it is not a factor?

 

This business runs on computers and tight deadlines. Any hardware or software failure is a loss of profits. Therefore, I have learned over the years that using top quality hardware with redundant systems, and employing a full time computer technician can save me in excess of $40,000 each year.

 

Anyway, I have come to believe that vibration isolation for hard drives is a necessity. Now when it comes to using hard drives in an audio environment I have no knowledge of how isolation will effect the sound quality. However, whatever isolation method used, it will at least extend the life of the drive.

 

Optical drives have been driving audiophiles insane for years. Many claim they are just as sensitive as a turntable when it comes to structural-borne and airborne vibrations. I have seen systems where guys have placed their players on double isolation bases and even place wrapped bricks on top of the units.

 

Many audiophiles have strong opinions on this subject. To start with there is nothing more frustrating than to pay out thousands of dollars for a CD player only to have the drive go bad. Take it to be repaired and the replacement cost is $300 to $400. And I mean the drive is the same unit found in a PC costing less than $100. Even more infuriating, after all these years the manufacturers have done little to improve the design or quality.

 

One needs to shop very carefully for a good player. Recently, a few of the CD/SACD players have custom designed optical drives. Drives made from machined aluminum in lieu of plastic, with precisely positioned optics and isolated from the case. On the positive side, these drives have been known to last longer. On the downside, the players will generally cost in excess of $5000.

 

I personally own such a player; a Marantz SA7. An impressive gold case which I have placed on one of my walnut burl blocks using the IsoNodes. It has worked perfectly so far, and is a great sounding player. I say so far because every player I have ever owned was replaced due to a drive failure.

 

I am not so convinced about how effective my isolation method is in regards to sound quality. I tend doubt the degree of effects on an optical drive produced by average airborne vibrations as claimed by too many audiophiles. But just in case, I opted to to play on the safe side. Of course only an idiot would place a CD or DVD player on top of a sub woofer.

 

I am not fond of units which use tubes. Tubes are always a problem and can be so damm touchy. I have two Magnum Dynalab radios, an FM tuner and a XM unit, both have tubes. (I should have known better, but they sound so good.) The FM tuner absolutely does not like vibrations so I placed it inside a cabinet on a Harmonic Resolution Systems isolation self. Again, so far my solution seems to work perfectly and the tuner has never sounded better.

 

The same built in cabinet actually gave me a problem. Every time I turned up the volume I would hear a buzzing noise. It drove me crazy for two months. I suspected everything under the sun as the cause. A service technician even told me I had no respect for my electronics because I was using Audience cables and not Nordost cables. While he was crawling around the floor in front of my cabinet attempting to find the cause, I actually considered taking his advice on the cables. But when I noticed his disgusting butt crack on display, one large enough to plant a tree in, I came to my senses. Later that day I found the problem myself. It was the glass in the cabinet door frames vibrating which made the noise. How could I have missed such an obvious item? How could the service professional also overlook what was in his face? I took the doors to a cabinet making shop. They fabricated new sliding doors with a gasket around the glass inside the mahogany frames. A good example of how speakers can cause vibration noise in the most unlikely manner.

 

I know of several people who have been irritated to no end over in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, including myself. With nothing more than friction holding these speakers in place, vibration can sometimes cause their self destruction. Poor installation hardware combined with real men don't read instructions will surely lead to an annoying buzzing sound that leaves you feeling like someone is drilling a hole in your head. At a substantial cost, last year I had all the in-ceiling speakers in my house replaced with premium Thiel speakers. No more buzzing noise, and the sound quality greatly surpassed my expectations. I should have had this done back in 2004.

 

My point being; Noise from speaker vibration can effect more than just electronic components. It can cause mysterious sounds around the listening room, from buzzing glass doors to singing lamp shades. Vibration will shorten the life of a hard drive, effect the performance of an optical drive, and cause tubes to perform poorly. However, I seriously doubt airborne or structure-borne vibration generated by a pair of speakers can cause distortion through speaker cables, power cords, or interconnects. I do not believe average level vibration can effect the sound quality from a solid state preamplifier or power amplifier, if one can find that it does, well you have a very poorly constructed unit (just covering my statement). I have not witnessed any effects on flat panel televisions hanging on the wall, or clocks slowing, computers shutting down, or cell phones performing badly.

 

Like many of us, I'm sure you have read about or spoken with someone who has vibration mania. Their obsession allows them to hear sounds the rest of us humans cannot. There are companies who cater to these slightly unhinged audiophiles with expensive products built on nothing but voo-doo science,

 

It seems there should be some type of moral to this story, or perhaps a Murphy's Law to keep one from wandering off on a dead end path. I wish there was some concise advice I could give regarding all the gadgets and audio tweaks available. Some statement of wisdom other than agreeing with "if it sounds good to you, then it was the right thing to do," or "try it, it might work."

 

Remember the days before the internet? The only advice available was from magazines, which was dubious at best, or from salesmen which left one filled with doubt. Today, forums like this, connecting people around the planet, is like a revelation.

 

Daphne

 

 

 

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Daphne - what a fantastically detailed reply - wow! I have only skim read it - promise to take more time this evening. One amusing thing though - you mention idiots putting CD players, etc, on Subs. I have my TV on my ADM9 Sub! Only way I could fit a Sub neatly into my set up. I looked at various ways of minimising the effects of the Sub on the TV. I was looking for a table that the Sub could go under and the TV on top, but could not find a suitable one. So, what I have at the moment is two plinths of MDF separated by two sets of isonodes and the TV sits on top. This is why I make the bold statement that isonodes work. Put some Bob Marley on, rest one's hand on the top of the TV and relatively little vibration is felt as transferred through - in practice, most of this may be airborne.

 

BEEMB - I would be happy to post some pics - how do I do it?

 

Phil

 

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Great post Daphne...lots of interesting info. The OP's mac mini uses a 5400rpm drive, not sure which external drive is being used. I have the same set-up, but use a mac timecapsule as my external drive (at the moment).

 

Anyway, interesting read this thread.

 

itunes alac > mac mini > pro-ject usb box > pro-ject pre box > pro-ject amp box > totem rainmaker

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Daphne,

 

Now read your post in detail and what great reading it makes. Working "butt cracks" into a discussion on vibrations - fantastic! BTW, my wife and I have a term for this phenomenon in the UK (butt cracks, not vibrations) and that is "builder's convention". It stems from a cartoon in Punch years ago, which depicted just that, a Builder's Convention, where all the builder delegates had their trousers half way down their bottoms (butts to you Americans).

 

I also had bricks and plinths sandwiching my CD player earlier this year. Thankfully, I now consider myself a reformed tweaker and am very much converted to Ashley's philosophy of directing resources at things that really do make a difference. He obviously employs that philosophy in the products AVI make and personally I think it has paid dividends - the ADM9s being a classic example.

 

I agree with you about the power of Forums such as this to exchange information. Not all Forums I have encountered are populated with individuals who take a relaxed approach and are willing to try new things. For example, an earlier post I made on the potential value of compression/does it make a difference would have been pounced on by "trolls" (as I believe they are called) in other Forums. However, my experience to date with CA is it is an excellent, enlightened Forum - well done Chris!

 

Phil

 

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Phil - Thanks for the kind words and appreciation for what's happening here. You can also pat yourself on the back for being part of the enjoyable experience. There are some really great people around here. I'm going to do whatever it takes to continue this high quality of readership as CA continues to expand!

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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I must say I've enjoyed the warmth and friendliness on here and also being able to express opinions without the "walking on eggshells" sensation there is on some Brit forums. I get the impression that Americans are more robust and less likely to offended by someone who has different take on things. It's wonderful and will speed the information exchange.

 

Phil and I need Green Cards!

 

Ash

 

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For Sale

 

Audiophile Isolation Green Cards - 4,429.00 USD. No Paypal, no nothing, cash only.

Guaranteed to render all airline vibration moot while crossing the pond.

 

Instructions

1) Place green iso-harmonic dampener in audiophile card holder (your hand).

2) Drink 5 martinis

3) Notice vibration is no longer issue as spinning room (passenger cabin) is matter at hand

4) Next day try to remember if vibration was issue, and try to locate all lost luggage

 

 

 

 

 

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Ashley, I frequent a hifi forum full of Brits myself, and while I can relate a bit to what you say, I like the crowd a lot. They've even gotten me calling them valves (but not using them) and I've referred to gear as "kit" once or twice. Mostly, they make me wish I had access to some of the fine equipment made there that is as rare as hen's teeth on this side of the pond.

 

Tim

 

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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